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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brooklyn Emergency Room

It was Veterans Day and I completely intended to write a blog about the veterans in my family.  Alas, it was not to be.  Instead, I bring you my adventures in a Brooklyn Emergency Room.

But first some updates:

My long term house guest has given me his keys and taken his stuff.  He was the person mentioned here, here, and here.  

Also, I mentioned my challenges with giving money to people.  Come to find out that the guy I ended up giving money to for "formula for his baby" uses the same story and each time says he lives in an apartment that you happen to be walking by.  I was walking in a completely different part of my neighborhood and he tried the same thing on me again not remembering he had done it before.  He got five dollars from me, bless him for that, but I won't be fooled again. 

The one thing that was pleasant about yesterday was that I heard some awesome duwop barbershop from four elderly black men on the subway.  I don't usually give money to buskers, but these guys were great.  They must have been in their 70's, and they really knew how to harmonize.  

After exploring in midtown a bit yesterday, finding a few pennies, having a real New York bagel for lunch, and spotting some people that I'm pretty sure were celebrities (you never know if you should ask or just assume they are), I came home to nap. 

I was waken up by a phone call from my fiance.  His visiting brother was in the emergency room.  

I grabbed my stuff and rushed over.  A few hours (we were there for 7) of a Brooklyn emergency room is sure to bring you some enlightenment.  I've been fortunate to not visit many emergency rooms.  The one in Oneonta was always super vast since it is rarely used.  In Rochester, I only visited them for personal reasons a few times and didn't wait long.  I was there for work more often escorting VIPs or running errands at hospitals where I worked.  As a kid, I only remember a few visits, and they seemed to go pretty quickly.  

My first impression of the ED at Kings County Hospital was that it is crowded.  There are beds lined up in the hallway.  Each hallway bed is labeled with a plaque above it.  We started in 2HW and ended up in 17HW.  HW stands for hallway, meaning you aren't actually put into an ED cubicle.  

Second, I noticed that there were lots of police officers around.  The security guards had guns, and NYPD seemed to be everywhere there.  In the bed across from us was a man in shackles and handcuffs sound asleep for most of our time there.  He was being guarded by an officer from the narcotics division.  This guy talked up a storm.  He spent some time talking about the NYPD.  I didn't realize that the NYPD has 35,000 officers.  He said it was the fifth largest armed force, but I didn't catch where.  

In another hallway bed was a man who I recognized.  He is a mentally challenged homeless man who is always asking for money on the corner by the hospital.  I work at a smaller hospital and medical school just across the street, so I see him a lot. If you refuse to give him money, he screams profanity at you.  He was in rare form.  When I arrived, he was eating a sandwich.  He kept aspirating (choking) on it and then spitting all over the place when he choked.  He finished it and asked for juice.  The nurse assistant scowled at him and turned to us explaining that he only comes here because he knows he can get food.  I replied, "God bless him," and got a scowl and huff in return from her.  The man kept saying he was hungry every time someone walked by.  He would say he had not eaten since morning.  The same nurse said he had had enough sandwiches, but another nurse gave him an additional one.  While I was there, I saw him consume four sandwiches.  The head nurse told him he needed to not keep eating because each time he does that (he is there a lot apparently), he eats so much that he vomits it all up.  He would ask each person who walked by where his clothes where too.  Whenever anyone said no to him about anything or they couldn't help him, he screamed profanity and spit on them.  He was just beyond spitting distance from where we were stationed.  It was uncomfortable to say the least.  He also apparently came in with two hats, one on his front and one on his back.  All I saw was him in part of a hospital gown.  He didn't sit still and with all his antics, it was hard to ignore him.  I saw way more of his naked body than I cared to.  

On top of that, there were people screaming, vomiting, moaning, and worrying.  No one likes to be in a hospital.  It took us hours to be seen because many cases were more pressing than ours.  One man who walked in and looked fine just flipped out on everyone and started screaming that he wanted an f'ing doctor now.  He really was yelling so loudly and violently that it was unnerving.  Security was called.  He was just upset and scared I guess because his heart was going crazy.  The doctor tried to explain that she had checked him and he was going to be ok until they could see him (stable).  She tried to go into detail about the fact that other people were dying at that moment and she had to see to them as a priority.  Still, this man was seen by doctors well before many other people that came in, including us, because he had caused such a scene.  It irked me a little.  We were patient, yet persistent, and ended up leaving about 2:00 a.m. with the situation as resolved as it could be.  

That made getting a blog post done difficult.  It also made my ability to focus at work impossible today.  Fortunately for me, I was able to get enough work done to leave the office and come up for a quick nap.  I feel revitalized.  I'll sleep earlier tonight and then hopefully be back at life full force tomorrow.  

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